Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bungalow Air Flow

After I had been working on my house for a while, I started noticing things that showed quirks of the original builder (or one of the very early POs).  One of the early POs of my house was into ventilation.  He was really into ventilation.

When I pulled down the aluminum soffits a couple of summers ago, I noticed little vents embedded into the wood trim at the very top of the outside walls.  Right where the exterior wall meets the eaves.  These little round, plastic vents are inserted every foot and a half around the entire exterior of my house.  Front, back, and sides. Even the front overhang and the buffet bump-out. I've rode my bike around my neighborhood for years looking at other houses to see if I could find something similar.  No luck.

To be honest, I can't tell if they are original to the house.  But, they are very old as they are layered with almost every layer of paint that was put on the house.  They are very hard plastic....almost like a bakelite.

Originally this must have worked quite well.  Hot air from the basement would rise through the gap in the joists where they sit on the foundation up through the uninsulated walls and exited through these little vents.    Ventilation is always good with stucco.

Over the years, their purpose has changed.  The walls of my house are now insulated.  The expansion is finished and I'd bet money that there is no air vent baffle in the ceiling (the owner that finished the attic didn't tape the drywall and put insulation in upside down.  I think expecting  a ceiling vent might  be a stretch).  So, now these little vents pull in cold air in my unfinished attic space and the front door overhang and now exit as hot air through the roof vent pods.  It actually is kind of cool, because you can stand in the attic and see daylight through them.

I'm not quite sure what effect they have on the exterior walls that now have insulation. To be honest, I try not to think about it.  I've toyed with the idea of filling the unused vents in with epoxy as I strip the paint up there.  A few of them are missing and the only replacements I find are all metal and about a .5" larger.  I'm in no rush to do anything. I figure they have been there forever, so I don't need to jump on this immediately. I may just strip the paint off them when I strip the wood trim and clean them out with a dental pick and call it a day.

Anyway. For your entertainment. My ventilation system.


Jennifer said...

INteresting. I've never seen anything like that! It's kind of like weepholes on brick houses, but up top.

Garden Monkey said...

Ugh! this posting made me realize that my contractors... bless their hearts, had forgotten to put in ventilation when the resided my place. I'm now looking for little vents just like the ones that you have to make sure everything flows the way it needs too. They seem simple enough right? I could just drill a hole and pop them in... They look far better than a big ol metal vent stuck through the siding.

Thanks for the post!

StuccoHouse said...

Jennifer - It might be a bigger thing up here in the cold climates. When snow hits, we are all about air flow to ward off ice damns on our roof.

Garden Monkey - ACE sells little metal versions of this type of thing. They are a bit larger than the ones in my post and can probably be painted. They are really you said, drill a hole and slide into place w/ a little long as the air has a channel to flow up.

Garden Monkey said...

I'm SOOO there! This is going to be the best summer EVER. :) Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I have seen these in soffit-less bungalows here in Kansas and the one house up the street went even more overboard. They have 3 per 16 inch centers, but I can tell you they help alot in the summer their attic is about 20 degrees cooler then ours and its essintially the same size and layout.

christine defazio said...

your house looks similar to ours. we just took of the siding and painting the stucco and woodwork. I was just in the attic and noticed some gaps where the overhang meets the walls. i am trying to figure out if these are some kind of vents which need to be covered with a grate or if they should be filled in with that foam that comes in a can.

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